Bill Orcutt is currently on tour in support of last year's excellent Music For Four Guitars and hearing the record come to life via live quartet is an inspiring sight to see.
Written, composed, and recorded in a basement, Bill Orcutt's phenomenal album Music For Four Guitars is an avant-guard modern classical wonder that is both a challenging and yet equally rewarding listen that presents many layers of atonal, raw guitar work. For his current tour, Bill has recruited three other musicians, Wendy Eisenberg, Ava Mendoza, and Shane Parish, to help bring this remarkable score to life in the way it was meant to be heard. For the group's stop at Roulette in Brooklyn, they played the record in full and unleashed some absolutely sinister improvisational jams as well. Clanging guitar tones that radiate arpeggiated chords can be an intense wall of sound for some, but watching these musicians weave these knotty riffs into stirring, yet sublime was a transfixing experience. Counting off the tracks, Shane Parish would usually lead the quartet into the madness and watching them all join together became a hypnotic routine that was repeated with each song. Their deep intimacy and familiarity with each other was captivating, each one playing their own powerful section, seamlessly intertwining with one another while never losing focus of their own dizzying and spellbinding composition. "At a Distance" was an early highlight and one that felt truly transcendent as it slowly built up to tangled web of sheer bliss and rapturous joy. Throughout the night, the guitars were loud, creating another obstacle for a more casual listener, an endurance test of sorts, but once you succumbed to the chaos, it becomes like hearing things in color and that was without question the feeling of watching these guitarists on stage. "What you've been hearing is songs from Music For Four Guitars, but that record is only 30 minutes and our sets an hour so now we're going to make some shit up" Orcutt told the crowd roughly halfway through the evening. Following the jagged, yet enticing songs from the record, the group descended into improve jams of technical wonder and amazement, each one taking their moment to showcase something totally unexpected while firmly staying in rhythm with the others. The anticipation, response, and timing between everyone onstage was another rather compelling and impressive aspect of the show. Watching them lead one another and react to their findings and observations was enthralling and while other jams follow a riff or a groove, finding the noise and distilling your own was a talent I was pleasantly pleased to witness. For the final few songs of the night, the band tuned to 'E' and broke through a killer rendition of "From below" that also took on a higher rank when seeing it come to life onstage. It was just yet another spine-tingling moment where the harmony between everyone on stage hit just right, making for an enrapturing memory of the highest proportions. His take on minimalism, extreme jazz, no wave, and noise music all comes out in different facets of his career, but Music For Four Guitars is a staggering work of art and being in a room where four incredible musicians bring it to life is something incredibly special and a moment that will sit highly for years to come.